Hope fades for 11 missing Chinese miners

RESCUERS said yesterday there is little hope of finding alive 11 miners trapped underground after a gas explosion in a central Chinese coal mine that killed 26 of their comrades.

Du Bo, the deputy director of the rescue operation, said it will take days to find the miners, who were trapped when a “sudden coal and gas outburst” hit Saturday in the central province of Henan, state media reported.

“There is not much of a chance that the 11 trapped miners could have survived and it will take three to four days to find them,” Du was quoted as saying by the official China News Service.

The missing miners were likely buried amid the more than 2,500 tonnes of coal dust that smothered the pit after the gas leak, suffocating most of the victims, Du said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

A total of 276 miners were at work below ground when the disaster happened in the city of Yuzhou and 239 managed to make it to the surface, the national work safety agency said.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera offered to help China, saying his country had learned from the San Jose mine disaster, where 33 miners were trapped for two months before being pulled out alive last week.

“If we can be of any help, they know that they can count on us,” Pinera said during a visit to London.

China’s latest tragedy highlights the poor safety conditions in its mines, in which more than 2,600 miners perished last year, according to official figures.

Rescuers said the missing miners were 50 to 80 metres below the pit entrance but the heavy dust slowed their progress through the narrow tunnels.

China had its own “miracle” mine rescue in April when 115 miners were rescued after more than a week trapped underground in a flooded mine shaft in the northern province of Shanxi.

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